Fiction vs Nonfiction Book Blurbs
Written by
Glenna Mageau
February 2017
Written by
Glenna Mageau
February 2017

Hi. I wanted to clarify the difference between Fiction and Nonfiction back cover copy. They serve different purposes and need to be treated differently.

To be sure we're on the same page, this is the copy also known as the book description, not to be confused with "blurbs" which come from reviewers.

Nonfiction Back Cover Copy

The nonfiction back cover copy is about the destination. The reader wants to know what they are going to get from reading your book. They want to know, potentially, where they could end up. So in this copy, you're going to share the benefits, the positive things the reader will get from your book. You need to share points from the beginning, the middle and the end of your book. It is really kind of a tell-all. The reader wants to immerse themselves in the message and what they can get from it. The author needs to make clear what are the key takeaways from the book - where the reader is potentially at to a point where they want to be (have more knowledge, find answers, learn a new skill...).

Fiction Back Cover Copy

The fiction back cover copy is very different. It is about the journey. The reader wants to be taken on an adventure but they don't want to know where exactly it's taking them. The reader wants to know the backstory, the kickstart, and the middle of the story but they definitely do not want to know the end. They want to discover that on their own. They want to immerse themselves in the mystery of where the story is going. The fiction description needs to focus on the opposites - where the main character is at and where the main character wants to be. What are all the hurdles getting in the way of that happening? It is meant to be enticing and intriguing, but definitely not a tell all.

There are some key differences in the information that needs to be included in each type of book blurb and in what the reader is looking for. When writing your book blurb try to look at it from the perspective of the reader and what they are looking for. 

What do you write: fiction or nonfiction?

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  • Glenna Mageau

    You're welcome Karen. Glad you found it helpful. What do you write?

  • Karen Szklany Gault

    This is a wonderful set of summaries for back-cover copy.  I will keep this for future reference. Thank you, Glenna!

  • Glenna Mageau

    Thank you Kristin. I hope the clarification helps some writers and authors. :)

  • Thanks for your post, Glenna! I'll feature it on our homepage for our members.